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Sales of Ayn Rand Books Reach 25 million Copies

Irvine, CA—Since the publication of Ayn Rand’s first novel, We the Living, 72 years ago, sales of her books increased exponentially, having recently reached the mark of 25 million copies, a staggering figure considering the length of her two major novels and the philosophical nature of their themes and ideas.

We the Living, whose theme Ayn Rand described as “the supreme value of a human life and the evil of a totalitarian state that claims the right to sacrifice it,” had a small initial printing of three thousand copies. The novel, which tells the story of three individuals facing an all-powerful communist state, steadily gained popularity through word of mouth, as did all of Ayn Rand’s novels, and 70 years later has sold more than 3 million copies.

Anthem, Ayn Rand’s shortest novel, was published two years later, in 1938, and so far has sold more than 4 million copies. Anthem portrays the struggle of an individual to discover his ego and gain his independence in a futuristic society where individualism is ruthlessly suppressed and the word “I” is no longer used–in conversation or thought.

The recurring theme of the conflict between individualism and collectivism is also present in Ayn Rand’s third novel, The Fountainhead, published in 1943. This conflict is dramatized in the story of Howard Roark, an architect whose independent vision and unbreakable artistic integrity pits him against the mediocrity and conformism prevalent in his own profession and in the society of his time. Sales of The Fountainhead reached 20,000 copies in its first six months of existence, climbed to 150,000 copies two years after its initial publication, and recently surpassed 6.5 million copies.

Ayn Rand’s last and most important novel, Atlas Shrugged, was first published in 1957 and, like The Fountainhead, has sold more than 6 million copies since its release. With a theme stated by Ayn Rand as “the role of the mind in man’s existence,” it sought to demonstrate “a new moral philosophy: the morality of rational self-interest” and to present a “moral defense of capitalism.” The plot of Atlas Shrugged involves the mysterious disappearance of the most able and productive individuals in a collectivist society that oppresses and exploits them while refusing to recognize their need to function in freedom.

The powerful themes and gripping plots of Ayn Rand’s stories gained the attention and admiration of millions of readers who, over the span of seven decades, have bought 20 million copies of her novels. Ayn Rand fans also bought 5 million copies of her nonfiction writings, which include essay anthologies such as For the New Intellectual (1 million copies sold), The Virtue of Selfishness (1.25 million copies sold), Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (600,000 copies sold) and the Romantic Manifesto (350,000 copies sold).

In 2007 alone, more than 800,000 copies of Ayn Rand’s novels were sold, along with 60,000 copies of her nonfiction books–both figures all-time annual records.

According to Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, the enduring appeal of Ayn Rand’s writings should not be surprising: “Ayn Rand offers readers the opportunity to experience masterful plots with heroes who show us the crucial importance of reason and the supreme value of pursuing our own individual happiness. Based on the growing popularity of her books since their publication, we can confidently predict that sales are bound to increase–and that’s a hopeful development not only for the future of capitalism in America but also for the future of freedom on Earth.”

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